|The Electoral College Spectrum*|
|*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.|
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including New Hampshire (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan), he would have 299 electoral votes. Both candidates numbers are only totaled through their rival's toss up states. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.
***Colorado is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That state is referred to as the victory line.
Wait, that looks exactly like yesterday's ECS. It does. That tie in the Buckeye state made the margin between Obama and McCain smaller there, but Ohio still slightly favors Obama. More importantly though, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio have inched closer to McCain of late, and those three states along with Virginia are the states upon which this race appears to be hinging at the moment. If either candidate gets all their current states outside of that four state block, they will need some combination of those four to break 270 electoral votes.
Here's where McCain's choice of a running mate comes into play. The Arizona senator could play offense in Colorado and Nevada by tapping Mitt Romney as his vice presidential nominee. The former Massachusetts governor would also help in his home state of Michigan. That potentially puts Obama in a real bind. McCain would be on the offensive in those two western states and Michigan and would have to play defense to hold on to Virginia, but wouldn't even "need" Ohio. Granted, if you look at the Spectrum, ceding Ohio and swinging Michigan to the right would cost McCain three electoral votes, but it would help him squeak by in the electoral college with a 271-267 advantage. And hey, Ohio is trending the Arizona senator's way.
Looking at the electoral college breakdown and vice presidential selection in that light makes me second-guess the pundits' thoughts about McCain's pro-choice running mate trial balloon in the Weekly Standard last week. Did that comment indicate Ridge and/or Lieberman or was it referring to someone who has moderated his views on the abortion question, Mitt Romney? There are certainly other issues surrounding Romney, but would his religious background affect the ticket enough to swing any states Obama's way? My first impression is that it would not, though some states (especially in the South) would be closer than they have been in the past. In the end, that is a razor-thin electoral college margin, but at this point, it looks like Romney may be able to do the most damage to Obama and the Democrats in the electoral college. What he brings to the table, is what helps McCain the most in the electoral college.
This swoon period will end for Obama with the effect the combination of a VP selection and the convention helping. Will that effect be muted by the GOP convention that follows on the heels of the Democrats', though? Suddenly, August looks to be a challenging month for the second consecutive cycle for the Democrats. If the race looks tied after whatever bounce the GOP convention gives McCain, then the debates will likely play a crucial role in deciding who will win this election in November.
Speaking of convention bumps, Thomas Holbrook has a post up on his blog now that looks at the effects of past conventions and glances ahead to the upcoming conventions.
The Electoral College Map (8/17/08)
Which States are Underpolled in the Presidential Race?
The Electoral College Map (8/14/08)